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Lesson Kit: The War of 1812: Who Has the Advantage?
Grade 7: 1800–1850: Conflict and Challenges
In this lesson, students will decide who holds the advantage at the beginning of the War
of 1812 by evaluating the conditions of both the United States and Great Britain during
this period.
The War of 1812
Archives of Ontario’s War of 1812 online exhibit - Click here to view the War of 1812
online exhibit.
Use the Archives of Ontario’s online exhibit on the War of 1812:
As a learning resource for yourself
As a site to direct your students for inquiry projects
As a place to find and use primary sources related to the curriculum
Themes that can be addressed
Use of Primary Sources
Major battles
Alliances between First Nations and British forces
The role of Loyalists
Important individuals (ie. Tecumseh, Laura Secord, General Issac Brock)
Page | 1
Curriculum Links
Strand B. Canada, 1800-1850: Conflict and Challenges
Overall Expectations
Historical Thinking Concepts
B1. Application: Changes
and Challenges
Continuity and Change;
B2. Inquiry: Perspectives
in British North Americans
Historical Perspective;
B3. Understanding
Historical Context: Events
and Their Consequence
Historical Significance;
Historical Perspective
Historical Significance
Cause and Consequence
Specific Expectations
B1.1, B1.2
B2.1, B2.2, B2.4, B2.5,
B3.1, B3.2, B3.3, B3.4,
Page | 2
Assignment & Activity Ideas
This lesson is designed to take place over two classes. However, it can be abbreviated
and completed in one class or expanded and completed across multiple classes.
Getting Organized
Review the resources at the end of this plan
Print out a copy of the Who Has the Advantage? Fact Cards for each group of
students and a Who has the Advantage? chart and Decision Time! worksheet for
either each student or each group, depending on how you want to run the
Acquire one pair of scissors for each group of students.
For the following class, prepare copies of the Chronology of War handout and the
Advantage Follow-up Questions for either each student or each group of
Lesson Outline
In small groups, give students the Who Has the Advantage? Fact Cards and ask them
to cut them into twenty-one individual cards.
Ask the students to sort the cards into three categories using the Who has the
Advantage? chart as a guide. The three categories are: British Advantage,
American Advantage, and Neutral. Ask students to pick two to three cards per
category and write notes as to why they think the fact would provide an
Using the Decision Time! worksheet, invite students to make a decision, based
on their categorizing, on which side would have the advantage at the beginning
of the War of 1812. Remind them to give detailed reasons for their choices. Ask
students to either hand in this worksheet at the end of class or to make a
presentation as to who they felt had an advantage at the beginning of the War of
1812 and for what reasons.
In the following class, give students a chance to reconsider their position by
reading the student handout, Chronology of War, and answering the questions
on the Advantage: Follow-up Questions worksheet.
As a class, discuss the different positions and what factors led to advantages for
both sides.
Page | 3
Extension / Accommodation
Students could use the fact cards as a beginning point for a larger, researchbased project and presentation on the politics and economy of the War of 1812.
Discussion could take the form of a debate, with each student assigned a specific
Students could be asked to create a graphic narrative, such as a comic strip, to
illustrate the advances both sides had before, during, and after the War of 1812.
Page | 4
Handouts & Worksheets
Introduction to Primary Sources
Who Has the Advantage? Fact Cards
Student Handout: Who has the Advantage? Chart
Student Worksheet: Decision Time!
Student Handout: Detailed Chronology of War
Student Worksheet: Advantage Follow-up Questions
Marking Rubric
Page | 5
Introduction to Primary Sources
Register of militia grant, 1820-1850
Reference Code: RG 1-152-0-1
Archives of Ontario
A primary source is a document or object from the past created by people who lived during that time.
Primary sources provide a view into an event or experience that only people living during that time
could have experienced.
Archives collect and preserve primary sources so that students can learn history from the experiences
of people who were there. In an archive, primary sources are called records. In a museum, primary
sources are called artifacts.
Primary Sources
Secondary Sources
Original material from the past
Material people today write about the past
Paintings and other art work
Reference books
Websites such as Wikipedia
Current news articles
Documentaries and films
What are some other examples of primary and secondary sources?
Can sources be both primary and secondary?
Page | 6
Who Has the Advantage? Fact Cards
Cut out the following fact cards, and arrange them on the “Who has the Advantage?” Chart as
showing British Advantage, Neutral, or American Advantage.
Cut out each fact card!
Cut out each fact card!
Most of the people who lived in Upper
Canada were United Empire Loyalists
or people who had recently moved
there from the United States.
The Americans were facing uprisings
from Native groups upset with
American settlers moving westward into
their territories.
The economy of British North America
and Upper Canada was agricultural.
Almost all manufactured goods were
Great Britain was unsure of the loyalty
of the French Canadians in Lower
Canada and that of settlers who had
newly arrived from the United States.
Many of the younger American officers
and regular troops had no experience
with fighting.
Most of the top military leaders in the
United States were older and only had
experience fighting during the
Revolutionary War over thirty years
Great Britain had approximately 6,000
regular troops in British North America
with 1,500 in Upper Canada.
General Brock, the leader of the British
troops, had been in charge of the
military in Upper Canada for 10 years.
The population of all of British North
America was approximately 500,000.
About 100,000 lived in Upper Canada.
The economy of the United States was
both agricultural and industrial.
The voluntary militias in both the United
States and British North America were
very poorly fed, clothed and equipped.
Great Britain had a much larger and
better trained navy than the United
States in 1812.
The American military was made up of
approximately 7,000 regular troops.
The United States had a population of
more than four million in 1812.
Page | 7
Cut out each fact card!
Cut out each fact card!
Not all Americans supported the idea of
war. Many New Englanders, in fact,
openly opposed the war.
The United States had factories that
could produce military weapons located
quite close to the borders of British
North America.
Most of the British officers and regular
army soldiers had at least some war
Great Britain was already at war with
France in Europe. Most of Great
Britain’s navy was involved in the
blockade in Europe in 1812.
An American militia with 50,000
volunteers was set up in 1812.
All military stores and equipment for
British North America had to be
imported from Great Britain.
All men in British North America were
technically part of the militia and
could be called upon in time of war.
Only a few had any training.
Great Britain is approximately 5,250
km west of the Great Lakes region in
North American, where much of the
fighting occurred during the War of
Page | 8
Student Handout: Who has the Advantage? Chart
Arrange the Who has the Advantage? Fact Cards in either British Advantage, Neutral, or American
British Advantage
American Advantage
Page | 9
Student Worksheet: Decision Time!
Who do you think would have the advantage at the beginning of the War of 1812?
(Write your answer on the line provided below)
What are your reasons?
Reason 1:
Evidence for Reason 1:
Reason 2:
Evidence for Reason 2:
Reason 3:
Evidence for Reason 3:
Page | 10
Student Handout: Detailed Chronology of War
This on-line exhibit can be found on the Archives of Ontario’s website: Click here to
access 1812 online exhibit. Note: in the list below, victories are indicated by the flags of
the winning side.
Winning Side
June 18: United States Declares War on Great Britain.
July 12: General Hull invades Upper Canada at Sandwich (Detroit
July 17: Captain Charles Roberts captures Fort Michilimackinac
from the United States (Lake Huron)
August 15: Americans evacuate Fort Dearborn (Chicago), post
destroyed by First Nations
August 16: General Brock and Tecumseh capture Detroit with
combination of militia, First Nations and British regulars
September 21: Americans raid Gananoque destroy military depot
October 13: Americans defeated at Queenston Heights (Niagara),
Brock killed
November: an American army approaches Lower Canada from the
south but withdraws without attempting to capture the city or engage
British troops.
November 29: Americans cross Niagara River at Frenchman’s
Creek, withdraw after counter attack by British and militia.
Page | 11
Winning Side
January 19: Battle of Frenchtown - Colonel Proctor with mixed force
of regulars: militia and First Nations defeats U.S. General
Winchester and compels surrender
February 22: Lieutenant-Colonel George Macdonnel raids
Ogdensburg, New York
April 27: Dearborn's forces raid York (Toronto), British forces retreat
on Kingston
April 28-May 10: Siege of Fort Meigs on the Maumee (Ohio) fails to
capture the American post
May 25-27: Dearborn captures Fort George (Niagara), British forces
under General Vincent retreat to Burlington
May 29: British raid on Sackets Harbor (Lake Ontario), fail to
destroy American naval base
June 6: Battle of Stoney Creek: American forces withdraw to Fort
June 24: Battle of Beaver Dams: American detachment: surrounded
by First Nation warriors: forced to surrender to Colonel Fitzgibbon
following warnings by Laura Secord
August 2: Attack on Fort Stephenson on the Sandusky River (Ohio)
repulsed with heavy losses: Proctor retreats to Detroit
September 10: Battle of Lake Erie: British squadron captured.
Proctor decides to evacuate Detroit and eventually withdraws
completely from the area due to failing supplies
October 5: Battle of the Thames: British defeated, Tecumseh killed,
General Proctor retreats on Burlington
October 26: Battle of Châteauguay in Lower Canada, American
army under Wade Hampton retreats back over the border.
Page | 12
Winning Side
November 11: Battle of Chrysler's Farm: U.S. forces repulsed:
American army retreats after word of the defeat at Châteauguay in
Lower Canada
December 10: General McClure burns Niagara and retreats to
American side of the Niagara River
December 19: British Capture Fort Niagara, destroy American
settlements along the Niagara in retaliation for Niagara
Winning Side
March 4: Battle of Long Woods or Battle Hill near Thamesville American raiders from Detroit repulse attack by British regulars and
Upper Canadian militia.
Spring and Summer: Royal Navy raids communities and shipping
along Virginia and North Carolina coastline. Economic blockade of
the United States tightened.
No flag
May 6: British capture Oswego: New York: destroy depot
May 23-June 21: Treason Trials at Ancaster Upper Canada
No flag
July 3: General Jacob Brown captures Fort Erie
July 5: Battle of Chippewa: British defeated under General Rial,
retreat on Queenston
July 25: Battle of Lundy's Lane: British under General Drummond:
Americans withdraw to Fort Erie next day
August 4-5: Successful British defence of Michilimackinac
August 12: British naval and army personnel capture two American
war vessels off Fort Erie: the Ohio and the Sommers.
Page | 13
Winning Side
August 14: British supply ship Nancy destroyed in engagement in
Nottawasaga Bay.
August 15: British attack Fort Erie, repulsed with heavy loss.
August 24: Battle of Bladensburg: British defeat U.S. forces and
destroy part of Washington in retaliation for York.
August 31: Castine and other coastal towns in Maine captured in
joint action by British army and Royal Navy.
September 3: American war vessel Tigress captured off Mackinaw
Island by British gunboats (renamed the Surprise)
September 5: American war vessel Scorpion captured by Tigress
(renamed the Confiance)
September 11: Battle of Lake Champlain: British squadron
defeated: General Prevost retreats without attacking American
garrison at Plattsburg
September 17: Americans attack British siege positions: destroy
October 19: Battle of Cooks Mills: last fight in Upper Canada
No flag
November 5: American forces evacuate the Niagara Peninsula
No flag
December 25: Treaty of Ghent signed, ending the War of 1812
No flag
Winning Side
January 8: Battle of New Orleans: British defeated: two weeks after
the preliminary terms of the peace treaty were signed
Page | 14
Student Worksheet: Advantage Follow-up Questions
After looking at the Detailed Chronology of the War handout, determine if the side you
thought had the advantage at the beginning of the war really did have an advantage.
Did that advantage remain throughout the war?
Answer the following questions to think about who had the advantage during the War of
1. Who won the most battles in 1812?
Did your prediction hold true? Was there any pattern to which side won when?
3. What was the most significant battle fought in 1812? Why did you choose that
particular battle?
4. Did any change occur to the pattern of victories in 1813? Why do you think that did
or did not happen?
5. What was the most significant battle fought in 1813? Why did you choose that
particular battle?
Did any change occur to the pattern of victories in 1813? Why do you think that did
or did not happen?
7. In 1814 the British war with France ended with the defeat of Napoleon. Why would
this have a significant impact on the War in North America?
8. By 1814 both sides were ready to negotiate a peace settlement. Why do most
historians argue that no one won this war?
9. While the Treaty of Ghent was signed on December 25, 1814, ending the war, the
Battle of New Orleans occurred January 8th, 1815. Why would the fighting continue
after the war was over?
Marking Rubric
Level 1
Level 2
Level 3
Level 4
Had difficulty
Evidence used
to back up
decision is
incomplete or
lacking in detail
obvious facts
Categorized all
and organized
facts effectively
Evidence used
to back up
provides some
Evidence used
to back up
decision is
adequate and
provides some
detail and
evidence of
and organized
facts effectively